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Prince Edward Viaduct Plaque Unveiling
December 12, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 10:45 am
Please join me, Heritage Toronto, Mayor John Tory and Toronto’s Poet Laureate, Anne Michaels for the unveiling of the historical plaque commemorating the history of the Prince Edward Viaduct.
Wednesday, December 12th
10:00 am to 10:45 am
Playter Gardens, 4 Cambridge Ave (just west of Broadview and Danforth)
Click here for further information
The opening of the Prince Edward Viaduct 100 years ago, on October 18, 1918, marked an important new stage in Toronto’s development. The Viaduct linked the city with the fast expanding suburbs to the east and allowed streetcars, pedestrians, and vehicles to easily cross the Don River. Looking to the future, Commissioner of Public Works R.C. Harris insisted on building a rail deck under the bridge’s roadway to allow for a subway line – something that would not be built for another 50 years.
The Viaduct is an engineering feat consisting of three parts: an embankment between Sherbourne and Parliament Streets, a single-span bridge over the Rosedale Ravine, and the main steel arch truss bridge over the Don Valley. It was designed by architect Edmund Burke and engineer Thomas Taylor and was constructed by hundreds of labourers, many of them immigrants.
Not everybody was thrilled with its development, however. It took four public referenda to approve the project, with its disparagers referring to the Viaduct as “the bridge to nowhere”. Many decades later new concerns arose for a different reason. The Viaduct was second in North America only to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for number of suicides. To prevent future deaths, in 2003 “The Luminous Veil”, a barrier of steel cable was installed along the bridge at the cost of $5.5 million.
Today, despite challenges along the way, the Viaduct has grown to be a vital connector and a core piece of Toronto’s infrastructure. Now that we have historical perspective, the controversy surrounding its construction is a firm reminder that, when we plan for our city, we cannot afford to be limited by the perspective of the day but must dream big.